The first successful landing at the new runway on Italy’s Antarctic base has been completed.
On the morning of Tuesday 22 November, an Air Force C130J touched down at the runway at Boulder Clay, close to the Mario Zucchelli Station in Antarctica. Although the plane only dropped off a small amount of supplies before departing to the US base at McMurdo, the operation was a significant moment for the Italian team on the continent.
Lieutenant Colonel Massimilliano F. of the Italian Air Force, who was the pilot who made the first landing, told RaiNews that the operation “went well” and that his team “are very satisfied with how the test went”. He explained that the importance of the new runway was that “it ensured that supplies can be levied throughout the year regardless of the state of the sea ice, where the runway for aeroplanes was previously built”.
The runway was built by the ENEA and the Italian Air Force as part of the National Antarctic Research Programme, using funding provided by the Ministry of Universities and Research. The first studies into making the runway were conducted in 2013, but it has been a challenging project due to the fact that the track is positioned on a glacial moraine. In order to minimise the impact on the environment, the runway was built using only local materials.
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